Kilimanjaro preparation is key to a successful hike

Successful Kilimanjaro preparation

What to know

A successful summit attempt starts with proper Kilimanjaro preparation. Your journey starts with the right partner. Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours boasts over 12 years of expertise in guiding hikers to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Our seasoned guides have successfully led thousands of clients to the summit of this majestic mountain. We understand that choosing the right partner is crucial and can make the difference between a successful summit and a challenging journey.

At Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours, our primary goal is to equip potential Kilimanjaro climbers with valuable and precise information to ensure effective Kilimanjaro preparation. We believe that a well-prepared climber is more likely to achieve a successful summit. Years of hands-on experience and feedback from our esteemed clients have contributed to the wealth of information we possess.

We have meticulously compiled this Kilimanjaro preparation guide to provide you with the most relevant insights. Among the wealth of information presented, the tips outlined on this page stand out as particularly vital for a successful Kilimanjaro ascent. Choose Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours, where experience meets excellence, and let us guide you to the summit of a lifetime.

Before the climb

Be properly equipped

Ensuring that you are well-equipped for your summit attempt is an essential part of your Kilimanjaro preparation. Print our final Kilimanjaro checklist and mark it off, to ensure that you are. Click on the Final Kilimanjaro Checklist to get to this very important step in your Kilimanjaro preparation.

Be physically prepared

It is important to adequately prepare your body for the physical challenges of Mount Kilimanjaro. We have developed a dedicated Kilimanjaro fitness program which will assist you in getting your body in shape for your Kilimanjaro expedition. We will send you a copy of our dedicated Kilimanjaro Fitness Program once you have completed your booking with us.

Mental preparation

It is possible to summit Mount Kilimanjaro successfully. Many before you have succeeded. This should be at the topmost in your mind when preparing for the summit attempt. You should always remain in a positive state of mind, but not overly arrogant. For your Kilimanjaro preparation, try to anticipate various different scenarios, which you may encounter on the mountain. Try to work out the most suitable course of action, mentally by yourself or even as a group. Your mental stamina will, without a doubt, make the really difficult sections, like from Kibo to Uhuru or from Barafu to Uhuru, easier to complete. Remember, ensuring proper equipment and adhering to the items listed on the final checklist is crucial for being physically prepared. Additionally, the knowledge gained from this Kilimanjaro preparation guide will provide the mental confidence needed for the physical challenges of Kilimanjaro.

Adequate travel insurance

Make sure that you have adequate travel and medical insurance, which will also provide you with cover for the climbing Kilimanjaro. Some insurance companies see climbing Kilimanjaro as an adventure activity or high altitude mountaineering and their normal policies doesn’t provide cover climbing Kilimanjaro. Please make sure that the insurance policy you choose will cover to the summit of climbing Kilimanjaro. If you can’t find a local insurance policy to cover yourself, we can recommend Redpoint’s ‘Ripcord’ option which will cover almost anyone on Kilimanjaro, regardless of your country of origin.

Private Kilimanjaro hike or Kilimanjaro group trek?

A private Kilimanjaro hike means you are flexible to choose your own dates and have private services for your group including sleeping tents, dining tents, equipment (camping routes), mountain transfers as well as your own dedicated team of guides, porters, cook and waiter, serving your group only. There will off course be other people hiking Kilimanjaro and using the public facilities at the same time. This option is perfect for groups of 3 or more, couples wanting privacy, friends, families, solo hikers with special requirements and large groups.

Scheduled Kilimanjaro group trek normally has fixed dates that cannot be changed. You will also share common services with those in your group including camping equipment (camping routes) mountain transfers and the support team. However it is possible to reserve your own sleeping tent, hotel room and even a private guide. Scheduled group hikes are a great way of saving on the package price and meeting other like-minded people from around the world. A scheduled Kilimanjaro group trek is usually for solo travellers or couples looking for a group route. Kilimanjaro group treks have a maximum limit of 12 persons, but most typically attract only 3 to 5 hikers.

When to climb Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours image of the rain forest - Kilimanjaro preparation

The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during the dry season which is from middle June to early October. Weather conditions tend to be best during this period with the least chance of rain. It is also possible to hike Kilimanjaro from December to March, but weather conditions are less predictable. We recommend to avoid climbing Kilimanjaro during the rainy seasons: The long rainy period from April to May, and the short rainy period, during November. Please bear in mind that due to Kilimanjaro’s high altitude its weather patterns are not always seasonally predictable, making sunshine, snow and rain possible anytime of the year.

It is also possible to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro in April, May and November, however chances to encounter rain and snow during the hike, are substantially higher. Wet weather will make trails more difficult to hike on and muddy.

On The Mountain

Go slowly

Go slowly – “Pole Pole” as they say in Swahili! This is also very important during your first days of climbing. Even if you feel well, slow down and enjoy the scenery. The biggest cause of altitude sickness is ascending too high too fast! The slower you hike the more time you give your body to acclimatize.

Drink enough water

Make sure that you drink at least 3 litres of liquid a day – preferably water. On your first day, we recommend filling your water bottles fresh water. This can be purchase at the hotel in Moshi before your climb. Please note that plastic bottles are not allowed.

From day 2 onwards, porters will collect water from streams on the mountain. The water will then be boiled, before refilling your water bottles. As extra precaution hikers may also bring water purification tablets and add to their drinking water.

REMEMBER! A functioning “body water balance” is one of the keys to a successful climb!

Climb light

Please limit the weight in your daypack as lightly as possible; this becomes even more important on your summit night. Extra weight will slow you down and will also make breathing more difficult.

Packing

Remember that you will be on the mountain for at least 6 or 7 days. You will need to take enough clothing, especially socks to last for this period. Due to frequent rainfall as well as numerous streams on the routes, it is advisable to pack items individually in your bag. Please take note that Tanzania has a plastic ban, we recommend a big liner bag inside your duffel bag. You are allowed to bring zip-lock type plastic bags. You are not allowed to dispose of them in Tanzania, you need to take them home with you. It is critical that all items in your duffel bag stay dry, during rain or accidental water from a stream.

Kilimanjaro Clothing

You will be required to buy or rent the correct gear and clothing. This will include thermal underwear & hiking socks, gloves, warm head protection to name a few. Comfortable hiking or running shoes are ideal for the first part of the hike. However also, remember to bring proper hiking boots with good ankle support. This is ideal for the final sections where scree and rocks are encountered. And, most importantly, a walking stick/ski-pole. 

One of the most critical items of clothing is an outer jacket. You want it to perform the functions of keeping you warm and keep the wind out and yet still “breath”. It should be able to protect you at temperatures of as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius. Try to avoid tight fitting clothing or underwear. This will hamper circulation, causing either cold or discomfort on the mountain. A balaclava is a must, as it will protect your face against cold, wind, sun and snow. We strongly recommend other clothing such as shorts, sweaters, and T-shirts, when hiking on the lower slopes. The day temperatures on the lower slopes normally remain high.

Kilimanjaro Clothing layers

To ensure proper warmth, follow the principle of wearing the correct clothing layers, starting from against the body. A common mistake made by climbers is to wear almost everything they have with cotton against the skin. Cotton absorbs moisture, the moisture trapped against the skin will result in a definite lowering of the body temperature. This could lead to hypothermia. It is therefore very important to use proper thermal underwear with “wicking” properties. Wicking fabric has the ability to draw moisture away from the body, enabling moisture to evaporate to the outside.

The middle layer should provide the insulation and a product like polar fleece will be adequate in this regard. The outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and breathable. Products like Ventex, Goretex or Jeantex offer these properties. Short of altitude and physical exertion, cold is one of the most serious obstacles when attempting to summit Kilimanjaro. After securing your booking with us, you’ll receive a comprehensive document guiding you through the steps of purchasing the correct gear.

Take a hiking pole / ski pole

A ski pole is essential. The use of ski poles reduces external and internal loads on the knee joint by up to 20%.
Using one ski pole is a must, but it is recommended to use two poles. Buy one or hire one but take one – view our Gear Rental options.

New batteries

Replace your head lamp and camera batteries with new ones on your summit night.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

High-altitude sickness commonly affects individuals who are not accustomed to high-altitude conditions. AMS can become lethal if not treated immediately or if its symptoms are ignored. Probably 70% of all people climbing Kilimanjaro will suffer to some extent from AMS. You should familiarise yourself with this condition and take preventative care.

Malaria

Malaria occurs below 1800 meters and you should use the recommended prophylactics. Please consult your doctor about these. Currently, various preventative medication products are available that will be effective against the malaria strains found in Tanzania. Women using oral contraceptives should consult their physicians before using prophylactics.

Other useful Kilimanjaro preparation tips

Wet wipes

There is no washing water at Barafu, Kibo and Arrow Glacier camps. Wet Wipes are very useful

Snacks

Take enough snacks like energy bars etc. Avoid the toffee like energy bars as they get very hard and difficult to eat in low temperatures. We recommend that you bring cereal type energy bars instead.

Adequate sun protection

Wear a good quality pair of sunglasses with UV protection. Use adequate sun protection cream with a protection factor of at least 20+.

Thermal flask

Use a thermal flask for your water on the summit night, other water bottles might freeze solid.

Camera

Taking pictures with a fully automatic camera at the summit of Kilimanjaro is possible, and most people do this. The secret is to always have a new battery in your camera when going into cold areas at high altitude. A mechanical camera works just as well, provided you have the knowledge to operate it successfully. Cameras exposed to cold rarely cease to function. However remember that if you keep your camera inside your jacket and the lens becomes warm. A warm lens is likely to cause condensation to form when the camera suddenly experiences extreme cold. This condensation will freeze under conditions at the summit. Therefore, keep your camera dry at all times. Moisture will freeze at the summit which WILL cause your camera to stop functioning.

Other useful tips:

  • Travel with your most important gear as hand luggage. For example wear your hiking boots in the plane – missing luggage is a common problem. It is possible to rent most of the items, but it better to avoid renting hiking boots, thermal underwear etc.
  • Bring some blister plasters, Vaseline and liner socks. If you start to get blisters it will help a lot.
  • There is mobile reception on most of the mountain (except the first days on the Lemosho and Rongai route). If you bring your mobile, make sure you activate international roaming or get a local sim card. Because you cannot recharge the battery, we strongly recommend you bring a lightweight power bank to recharge your phone.

 
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP OF ALL – ENJOY THIS ONCE IN A LIFE TIME EXPERIENCE!!!